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Ubumanzi Game Lodge 4x4 Trail

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44km from Mookgophong

-24.2201, 28.5156

27km, 2-5hrs, Grade 10-33

+27 12 362 5755, +27 82 448 6290

Configuration: Circular routes from the base camp.

Terrain: Mountainous, a few steep inclines, river crossings and some marshy areas during the rainy season.

This is a self-drive route; no guide needed. Summer is beautiful with full dams and running streams. Ubumanzi lodge offers full board accommodation, a sundowners deck and swimming pool. There are roughly three routes at Ubumanzi. Game drives, birdwatching, hiking, mountain biking and swimming are some of the other activities on offer.


This private game reserve is the perfect place to experience the natural beauty of the unique Waterberg mountain range. Ubumanzi is small and exclusive. You can expect personalised service, experienced rangers and a vast number of species roaming the reserve. These include rhino, leopard, giraffe, brown hyena, aardwolf, waterbuck, eland, gemsbok, blouwildebees, zebra, red hartebeest, impala, blesbok, kudu, civet and caracal.

The 4x4 routes start from the base camp and head up into the Waterberg Mountains. They lead to magnificent viewpoints across this majestic mountain range and its secluded valleys. The terrain is mountainous and offers some challenging hills and sharp corners. There are numerous natural fountains, mountain streams and dams along the way. During the wet season from December to February, the tracks can change quite dramatically. Some sections become very marshy, thus increasing the challenge. During this period you might need recovery gear.

The trails at Ubumanzi are open throughout the year, but the summertime conditions are pleasant. There are many running streams and all the dams are full, with the unspoiled terrain blanketed by dense bushveld. One of the trails is suitable for 4x2 and ‘soft-roader’ type vehicles. On the marked trails, sightings of the extremely rare Eugene Marais cycads, which only grow in the conservancy, provide a special treat for nature lovers. 

The Ubumanzi Lodge offers full board accommodation in spacious en suite rooms, a bar and lounge, swimming pool and lapa. For those looking for something more rustic, camping is possible at the bush camp near a hikers hut, though the space is limited to 2-3 tents only. There are a number of outdoor activities including game drives, hiking with an experienced guide, birdwatching and mountain biking. Fishing can be arranged on request.

Take the N1 north from Pretoria. Head through Kranskop toll gate and take the Mookgophong (Naboomspruit) turn-off (R101). Once you are in Mookgophong turn left at the second traffic light onto the R520. Continue on the road for 11km until you reach a T-junction. Turn left and continue for 150m. Turn right at the Marken sign. Keep on the tar road for 25km. The road becomes a gravel road. Continue on this road for another 6km. You will see the Ubumanzi Security gate on the right-hand side. Follow the signs to Ubumanzi. Please note that the venue is not open to day visitors.




Rugged mountains, rolling bush and abundant wildlife characterise this area. The Waterberg is one of Limpopo’s most popular eco-tourism regions. Over the past decade it has come to rival Mpumalanga’s legendary Lowveld, with the added plus of being malaria-free.

The Waterberg offers a range of wildlife and safari experiences. These vary from Big 5 private reserves and game lodges to remote wilderness hideaways and self-catering bush camps. There are also national and provincial reserves.

The region is named after the Waterberg mountain range - ‘water mountains’ in Afrikaans - that stretches west to east for about 150km from Thabazimbi to the Mokopane. The mountains form the shoulder of the Palala Plateau – the bushveld of which rolls westwards all the way to Botswana.

True to their name, the Waterberg mountains include many rivers, streams, swamps and wetlands. The Limpopo River forms the western boundary of the region and the Mogalakwena River the eastern. The Waterberg has vast tracts of bushveld savannah punctuated with clusters of trees and tall savannah shrubs. The Springbok Flats are to the south. 

The Waterberg is more than three million years old – and there are numerous archaeological finds and San paintings that give us glimpses of its past.

Mining has long been essential to the Waterberg’s economy. An Iron Age mineshaft found in the Waterberg was carbon dated to 1 500 AD. Five hundred years later, mining is still taking place. The Waterberg is one of the richest mineral deposits in the world. It’s part of the Bushveld Igneous Complex - a unique geological complex of volcanic rocks formed some 600 million years ago. The complex extends over 50 000km² and is rich in platinum, iron ore, vanadium, tin, tungsten, chromium and coal.

The Waterberg region includes the towns of Bela-Bela, Modimolle, Mabatlane, Lephalale, Mookgophong and Thabazimbi. The largest town is Bela-Bela, a lively centre for surrounding farms and game reserves, and famed for its hot springs. The name Bela-Bela means ‘water that boils’ in Tswana.

The towns of Modimolle and Mookgophong are steeped in interesting Iron Age, Nguni and Voortrekker history. The quaint village of Matlabane is a meet-and-greet spot for many travellers to the area, and Lephalale is the centre for the region’s thriving hunting industry.

The heart of the Waterberg is the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, a 400 000ha protected wilderness area offering a mix of nature, culture and heritage. It was declared by UNESCO in 2001 on the basis of its mountainous habitat, magnificent red sandstone cliffs and evidence of human occupation dating back thousands of years. It was first inhabited by the San people, who left their legacy in the form of rock art and cave paintings.

The only savannah reserve of its kind in southern Africa, the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve includes private and provincial game reserves. It also has areas of cultural and archaeological significance. The region has a strong conservation ethos, and eco-tourism and sustainable practices underpin many lodges and reserves here.

The Waterberg offers an exciting mix of wildlife and wilderness experiences – from traditional game lodges to tailor-made adventures. You can go hiking, camping, 4x4 off-roading, horseback riding and birding. The Waterberg is famed for two significant birding sites. The Nylsvley Wetlands is home to over 400 species of waterbirds. The Marakele National Park is home to the largest Cape vulture colony in the world. The area also has conservation training programmes, wildlife rehabilitation centres and educational school camps.

Look out for

Marakele National Park - The name Marakele is Tswana for ‘place of sanctuary’ and this wild and remote reserve is just that. Marakele has craggy hills and deep wooded kloofs, with rare cycads, tree ferns and yellowwood trees. This is an unspoilt part of the Waterberg, home to all the large game species from rhino to elephant and the big cats. It is also home to the world’s biggest Cape vulture population – over 800 breeding pairs.

Nylsvley - The Nylsvley Conservancy is a favourite destination among South Africa’s birding community. It is part of the country’s largest flood plain. Stretching over 70km from Modimolle to Mokopane, Nylsvley is a world-renowned RAMSAR site. In the rainy summer months the grasslands of Nylsvley are transformed into lake that stretches for kilometres. It virtually becomes an international bird airport. The Waterberg Nylsvley Birding Route covers Nylsvley, the Waterberg mountains and Marakele National Park.

The Waterberg Meander - The Waterberg Meander is a self-drive route through the heart of the region that takes you to a series of interesting sites, community projects and tourist attractions. Visit local arts & crafts projects, explore the ancient hill of Melora, meet the Waterberg Red Beds, an unusual geological formation, check out the glorious mountain peaks known as the Seven Sister of the Waterberg, or visit a monument dedicated to explorer David Livingstone.

Bela-Bela’s hot springs - Long known for their healing properties, the hot mineral springs at Bela-Bela bubble out of the ground at about 2 200 litres per hour, at a temperature of around 53ºC. The water is rich in sodium chloride, calcium carbonate and other salts with natural healing properties. The Bela-Bela Aventura Resort is a popular spot for its water world activities. There are many health and pampering opportunities in and around Bela-Bela.

The annual Big Five Marathon - The 42km-long Big Five Marathon is known as the wildest of them all – they say it’s tougher than South Africa’s famous 88km-long Comrades Marathon. Held at Entabeni Game Reserve in the Waterberg mountains, this annual marathon attracts thousands of runners from around the world. Out here there are ravines and gorges, rivers and lakes, and stretches of unspoiled bushveld. There are no fences; just wide open spaces and a tough challenge for marathon runners.

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